Fool me once

150 years ago, Mark Twain said, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they’ve been fooled.”

Fake news travels six times faster than the truth. How?

Because it’s easier to click a thumbs up or share button than it is to discuss.

If it came from your friend, you are more likely to accept it as fact.

And if it’s viral, you don’t want to be the one who missed out.

This isn’t an argument of facts. The facts can be found in ten seconds by simply Googling it.

This is a problem with feedback. The feedback we receive based on algothrims designed by a couple hundred engineers in Silicon Valley.

When we turn the keys of our decision making over to someone else, we give up agency. And too often, we are so desperate to let others decide for us.

When we don’t decide, someone else will for us.

The limit isn’t environmental

Contrary to popular believe, goldfish can actually out grow the bowl they are kept in.

Most fish are indeterminate growers. Meaning, they can grow until the day they die.

It turns out, what’s more important than the size of tank is the quality of water and nutrition–Are they well taken care of? The size of the bowl has nothing to do with it.

We get it wrong with people too:

A) We can grow larger than the expectations people set on us. Larger than the culture and environment we grew up in.

B) We can also continue to grow until the day we die too. Not physically of course. But there is no end to the lessons we can learn.

The unlived life

Each of us has two lives. The live we live and the unlived life. In between that stands Resistance.

Resistance doesn’t want us to reach our potential. It doesn’t want us to build the courage to step into the unknown to see what will happen.

And because of the journey ahead isn’t likely to succeed without maximum effort, we feel a pull to prepare.

How?

We prepare by becoming more efficient. We save time by outsourcing everything we can. (We don’t use horses anymore, we drive. We don’t look for news, it comes to us. We order fast food instead of making dinner.)

We are all busy. Busy is the main excuse why we can’t achieve our goals. Yet, we are saving more time than ever before.

The question is: What are you doing to cross the chasm with all the time you save? How much closer are you to living the unlived life?

Pro-wrestling is fake

Once you see the spattered blood packs, the breakaway tables, the pulled punches, everything about pro-wrestling looks different.

The same can be said about a magician revealing her tricks.

The magic is gone because we realize it isn’t real, it is an entertainment.

We have to acknowledge the fact that social media, doom scrolling and the 24-hour breaking news cycle, is fake. It is here to give us dopamine hit after hit, and to keep us on the hook.

Know when you are beaten

There is a lot of reasons why a business can fail when starting out:

You can run out of time, money, patience. You can be talking to the wrong audience. Perhaps, you are ahead of your time. Your marketing/delivery can be off.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the journey. Because when we decide we are going to create something, we are deciding to solve a problem for someone.

That’s noble in itself. But you can’t stay at something forever. Our time here is finite.

Stephen King calls it, “killing your darlings.” It’s a good way to look at it. As hard as it maybe, there comes a time when you must learn to walk away. Every good scientist makes a hypothesis and knows when the experiment is over.

It’s not fair. You have sunk so much time into this project. But much like the fourth year law student, who realizes they hate practicing law–it’s a sunk cost.

The sooner we can accept this, the sooner we can get back to work. Solving the next problem. We need you.

A note about advertisements

Most car commercials look too good to be true. That’s because they are.

If you look carefully most of them have a small disclaimer on the bottom that says this car on display is a “prototype”.

There is a gap between what we can promise (because we can promise the moon) and reality (what we actually can deliver).

Buyer beware.

Tragedy

When tragedy strikes we are quick to tell ourselves that no one could possibly understand what I am going through.

That is grief talking.

Pain, sorrow, guilt, remorse, anger, sadness…all universal emotions.

Let’s be clear: It is not fair what has happened and you are not alone in this.

Each of us has the capacity to sit with the tension of loss even if we haven’t gone through what someone has gone through. Because we have all lost someone or something.

Empathy is the most powerful tool we posses to rebuild and bring people closer together.

The work will fill the time if you let it

There is always more busy work we can be doing.

That’s a fact.

Because the next email, tweet, meeting, emergency, TPS report is always here.

If we let it, it’ll win. And then we sit back, tired and exhausted wondering what we even did with our time.

The alternative is to fill our time with productive work.

Not the kind that is checked off a list but the sorta work that you can be proud of.

It’s your choice what you choose to click (or watch or write or produce).

The first thing we must do is look in the mirror and ask, “Is what I am doing productive or is there something more important that I should be doing?”

When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot

Every safe climber knows before you start up the wall you should tie a knot at the end of your rope. This keeps the rope going through the belay device and having something devastating happen.

This is the same reason why airline pilots have a check list. Humans are forgetful creatures. And if we set up the correct systems, the rest can take care of itself.

Important to note here, we are not eliminating decision making; simply limiting it.

Out of control

We have to be clear here. When something is out of control, what we really mean is this is out of our control.

Storming Capitol Hill, fake news epidemic, election results…

“Not my problem.”

“Nothing I can do here.”

The degrees of separation matter here. When something doesn’t directly effect us, when we can go about our lives without much changing, when we can simply opt out; that is privilege.

Each of us have more power to change things than we can imagine. It’s our job and responsibility to bend the culture towards justice.

If only we cared enough–imagine the possibilities.